Lucinda Williams has always been adept at painting landscapes of the soul, illuminating the spirit’s shadowy nooks and shimmering crannies — but she’s never captured the sun breaking through the clouds as purely as on her new Lost Highway release, Little Honey.
“I’m in a different phase of my life, so there are more happy moments on this album,” the singer-songwriter says of her ninth studio set. “ ‘Darkly introspective,’ is one phrase people have used to describe a lot of my songs. There are moody songs, but I’m looking outside myself a little bit more. These aren’t ‘boy meets girl, boy leaves girl, girl gets bummed out’ songs — there’s a lot more than that going on.”
Williams wastes no time signaling that mood change, leading into Little Honey’s opener, “Real Love” with a false start riff that’s the six-string equivalent of a friendly wink – then sidling into the tune’s hard-rocking vibe with a sensual slink that underscores the passion of finding exactly what that title indicates. The bluesy physicality of that tune is echoed in several of Little Honey’s tracks, from the charmingly chugging “Honeybee” to the gorgeous melodies of “If Wishes Were Horses”.
“I’m stepping out and writing about things other than unrequited love. But because that’s not part of my experience anymore,” she explains, “doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being a songwriter. There are plenty of other important things to write about — the state of the world, for one thing — I don’t buy into the myth that because you get to a certain level of contentment, you have to throw in the towel.”
Little Honey continues that ongoing forward quest, mixing country, R & B and blues-rock elements with adventurous aplomb. The disc gets an added octane boost from the powerful chemistry between the musicians, primarily drawn from Williams’ latest road band (now collectively known as Buick 6) — includes bassist David Sutton, Eels veterans Butch Norton and Chet Lyster as well as longtime collaborator Doug Pettibone.
Williams augments that core unit with a passel of like-minded folks spanning a huge chunk of the musical spectrum, from octogenarian singing legend Charlie Louvin to power-pop vets Susannah Hoffs and Matthew Sweet, the latter of whom helped arrange the Spector-tinged “Little Rock Star” — applying studio skills that prompted Williams to dub him “this generation’s Brian Wilson.”
“I feel that this is the most eclectic record I’ve ever done, and I’ve always been known for being eclectic,” she says. “ For this album, I was comfortable just letting the songs flow, and not worried about being so serious and heavy and having to top myself — and I think that shows.”
She needn’t have worried for a minute because, with Little Honey, Lucinda Williams has indeed topped herself again.
Jun 6 2009 Whiskey Roadhouse Council Bluffs, Iowa
Jun 7 2009 Oneida Bingo & Casino Oneida, Wisconsin
Jun 9 2009 The Vogue Indianapolis, Indiana
Jun 10 2009 Madison Theater Covington, Kentucky – BUY TICKETS
Jun 12 2009 Bonnaroo Music Festival Manchester, Tennessee
Jun 14 2009 Brown Theatre Louisville, Kentucky
Jun 15 2009 The Blue Note Columbia, Missouri